Friday, December 2, 2016

Webinar Dec. 8th: Perspectives of Building Occupants with Mobility Impairments on Fire Evacuation and Elevators

                                                      ADA National Network Learning Session

December 8th, 2016

Webinars begin at 2.30pm ET/1.30pm CT/12.30 pm MT/11.30am PT/9.30am Hawaii.
Registration: Free on-line at

Safe and effective evacuation during a fire or other catastrophic event requires planning, practice, and available options to exit the building. Building occupants with mobility impairments face additional difficulties during fire evacuations, which may limit their evacuation options. This webinar presents a study that was conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop guidance for building designers, facility managers, safety officers and emergency personnel on how occupants, particularly those with mobility impairments, can most effectively evacuate buildings during fire emergencies.
NIST researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with 51 people with mobility impairments located in five major metropolitan areas who work in multistory buildings. They were asked about their everyday mobility at work, their experiences with fire drills or fire emergencies at work, and their opinions about using elevators to leave a building during a fire evacuation. Of particular interest were their responses to a description of occupant evacuation elevators (OEEs), egress systems with the potential to get people with mobility impairments out of a building safely and quickly, without the assistance of others, and without having to leave their mobility devices behind.
The study identified a wide range of issues surrounding the evacuation of occupants with mobility impairments. Key to all of these issues is the need to include those with mobility impairments in the planning and execution of fire evacuations and to facilitate their ability for self-evacuation as much as is practicable.

Learning objectives:
  • Understand the variety of experiences, both positive and negative, that occupants with mobility impairments have with fire evacuations.
  • Identify the evacuation methods that occupants with mobility impairments may use in response to a fire emergency, along with the reported benefits and concerns with each.
  • Describe the concept of Occupant Evacuation Elevators (OEEs).
  • Name the key factors that improve the fire evacuation experience of occupants with mobility impairments.
Kathryn Butler is a Physicist in the Fire Research Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She has studied a wide range of fire-related topics, including emergency communication, respirator fit, fire spread in wildland-urban interface fires, and fire behavior of materials.
Erica Kuligowski is the Group Leader of the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fire Group in the Fire Research Division at NIST, with a background in fire protection engineering and sociology. Her research interests include evacuation and response behavior, people movement and behavioral data collection and analysis from fires and other emergencies, emergency communications, and evacuation modeling.
Susanne Furman is a cognitive scientist in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Visualization and Usability Group, where she works on and investigates user's mental models in cybersecurity and usability of biometric devices for the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Furman has a PhD in applied experimental psychology human factors from George Mason University.
These 90 minute webinars are delivered using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Collaborate downloads files to your machine in order to run. We recommend that you prepare your technology prior to the start of the session. You may need the assistance of your IT Staff if firewalls prevent you from downloading files.

To view all of the sessions for the coming year, or to see previous sessions, go to

ADA National Network

The information presented in this webinar is intended solely as informal guidance, and is neither a determination of legal rights or responsibilities by NIDILRR or FEMA.

Report Nov. 2016: Employment picture remains bright for Americans with Disabilities

Kessler Foundation & University of New Hampshire release nTIDE Report for November – Monthly Update
DURHAM, NH – While the employment picture brightens in the United States, more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide continue to face challenges as they strive for inclusion in their communities, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). We are reminded of global efforts to support their dignity, rights, and well-being on December 3, the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
National Trends in Disability Employment: Comparison of People with & without Disabilities (November 2015 & November 2016)
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report released Friday, December 2, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 26.0 percent in November 2015 to 27.7 percent in November 2016 (up 6.5 percent; 1.7 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.6 percent in November 2015 to 73.1 percent in November 2016 (up 0.7 percent; 0.5 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).
“The improvement in the proportion of people with disabilities working continues its upward trend and once again outpaces improvements made by people without disabilities,” noted John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “In addition, the relative magnitude of this month’s gain is larger than the average monthly gain over the previous seven months. So this is a pretty good month.”

SOURCE: Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability

Stevens Transport Sued By EEOC For Disability Discrimination, Refused to Hire Air Force Vet as Truck Driver

DALLAS - Stevens Transport, the largest refrigerated trucking company in Texas and one of the top four largest temperature-controlled carriers in the United States, violated federal law when it failed or refused to hire a U.S. Air Force veteran as a truck driver because of his bipolar disorder, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Bill Brown was told that he could not be hired as a truck driver for Stevens "per company policy" because of the medication he takes to control his bipolar disorder. Brown presented a report from his medical provider indicating that he was safe to drive, but the physician with whom the company contracted to do medical examinations told him he could not be hired while on those medications. There are no U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations prohibiting people on these medications from commercial truck driving, and Brown had completed an advanced truck driver training course and passed the DOT physical that is required to hold a commercial driver's license (CDL). However, despite Brown's qualifications to perform the job safely, Stevens refused to hire him, EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Stevens Transport, Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-03325-N) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.
"The trucking company unlawfully refused to hire this qualified candidate, disregarding his physical exam results, his completion of training, his CDL and the positive report from his medical provider," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino. "The company put up an unnecessary roadblock to Mr. Brown's employment by discounting his skills and abilities as a driver when it turned him away."
EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan L. Shepard, Sr. added, "Neither Stevens Transport nor the physician it contracted with made an individual assessment of Mr. Brown. In addition to violating the ADA, Stevens lost an opportunity to add a valuable employee to its team. Mr. Brown is a veteran who gave years of his life for his country and who has gone on to become a successful truck driver with another company - which should demonstrate his professional fitness."
EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.
SOURCE: Press Release, EEOC Nov. 30, 2016

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Statement from Access Living and SEIU Healthcare Illinois on SB 261 HomeCare OT Rule

Springfield, IL. Nov. 30, 2016
"We applaud passage of Senate Bill 261, which defends the right of people with disabilities to decide who cares for them in their homes. Passage of SB 261 sends a strong message to the state to do better and work more closely with stakeholders in improving the vastly successful Home Service Program. And it provides an opportunity for the Illinois Department of Human Services to end a year-long abuse of a Federal overtime rule that was intended to strengthen services, not cut care for people with disabilities.

"We have learned that the administration at the 11th Hour is proposing a new overhaul of its overtime rules, only weeks after proclaiming its existing rules nearly "perfect." Any new proposal needs to be carefully vetted by the people who utilize the program, as well as the community of advocates and caregivers who have helped build it into such a success over the years.

"In the meantime, we urge the governor to sign SB 261 and help mend a program sent into total disarray with a confusing, unnecessary and unlawful use of the administrative process.

"Finally, we are grateful to the advocates in the General Assembly who have voted to protect the thousands of women and men who are able to stay in their homes and communities with dignity directly as a result of a program that has been built up over the years, in bipartisan fashion and with input from the people it's intended to serve."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"We Can't Breathe": The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality

Nov. 30, 2016 -- The National Council on Independent Living’s Diversity Committee releases “We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project.” This project includes a video and toolkit that can be utilized for educational training for disability organizations and agencies. The video discusses the narratives of 5 people with disabilities on the margins that have been victimized by police brutality and other forms of systemic violence. The We Can’t Breathe Toolkit was designed to equip disability organizations, agencies, and community members with the tools to process the video and build policies, programming, and advocacy that center intersectional organizing. The project addresses how state violence affects people with disabilities who are also women, people of color, and LGBTQ+. This training intentionally utilizes an intersectional framework to combat the racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia that pervade disability organizations and agencies.

In conjunction with the release of the We Can’t Breathe Project, there will also be a Facebook and Twitter chat the evening of November 30th from 7pm – 8pm EST. Anyone can participate in these conversations through the Facebook event page and/or NCIL’s Twitter page
SOURCE: Press Release

World AIDS Day - Dec. 1st 2016

World AIDS Day, designated on 1 December every year since 1988, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease. Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.
World AIDS Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health DayWorld Blood Donor DayWorld Immunization WeekWorld Tuberculosis DayWorld No Tobacco DayWorld Malaria Day and World Hepatitis Day. Since 1995, the President of the United States has made an official proclamation on World AIDS Day.
As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide (1981-2012), and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. Despite recent improved access to antiretroviral treatment in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claims an estimated 2 million lives each year, of which about 270,000 are children. 
(Info From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The HIV Testing Sites & Care Services USA Locator -

In the United States of America, we have HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator is a first-of-its-kind, location-based search tool that allows you to search for testing services, housing providers, health centers and other service providers near your current location.
Check in the part of country you live in, on Dec.1st there are many free testing sites available.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Illinois Group Home Provider for Disabled Residents License Pulled For 'Imminent Risk' To Residents

Thee Illinois Department of Human Services has revoked the license of a group home provider that was spotlighted in a Chicago Tribune "Suffering in Secret" investigation series earlier month, citing the state-funded business for safety problems and "willfully violating the rights of individuals" with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Illinois Dept. of Human Services is revoking the license for eight group homes and daytime training program, all of which have operated under the name Disability Services of Illinois since earlier this year. The 45 adults with disabilities are being located to other community-living options, including group homes operated by different providers,

Equip for Equality, Illinois' federally empowered disability-rights watchdog, excoriated Goodwin's businesses in the early 2000s for hazardous conditions and financial mismanagement. The group, which advocates for the type of community living that group homes offer, titled its scathing report, "Why Does an Agency that Profited from Exploiting Persons with Disabilities Remain Taxpayer Funded?"

Please take some time and read the Chicago Tribune "Suffering in Secret" investigation series, it's a honest and tough look into the State of Illinois system that is suppose to serve and protect those with disabilities that rely on such programs.

Associated Press article Nov. 30, 2016

Illinois agency revokes group home provider's license

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Department of Human Services has revoked a group home provider's license and cited the state-funded business for safety issues and rights violations of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

On Monday, the department's chief licensing official, Felicia Stanton Gray, told Reuben Goodwin Sr. she was revoking the license for his eight group homes and daytime training program, all under the name Disability Services of Illinois, the Chicago Tribune ( ) reported.

"I think we do a good job to make sure people are safe and that the staff is trained," said Goodwin in an interview last month.

Goodwin can appeal the decision by requesting a hearing before Dec. 23, but the department will still move 45 adults to other community-living options in the next two weeks.

Human Services spokeswoman Meredith Krantz said the state agency will work toward changing the way group homes "are held accountable in order to ensure individuals with disabilities receive high levels of care."

The move comes after Disability Services was spotlighted in an investigation by the newspaper this month that revealed the inspector general's office mishandled a 2012 investigation into neglect allegations at Goodwin's business.

The investigation found at least 42 deaths linked to abuse and neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years. Residents have been humiliated and lost freedom, state records show.

The probe also identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 — hundreds more cases of documented harm than publicly reported by Illinois' Department of Human Services.

Results from Chicago Tribune's investigation have prompted Human Services Secretary James Dimas to order widespread reforms to improve public accountability and streamline investigations.

"My concern is that too often agencies hide behind their confidentiality statutes, which makes it harder for the public to know what is going on," Dimas said previously.

The newspaper's attempts to reach Goodwin for comment were unsuccessful.

Minnesota Nonprofit Agrees To Allow Sheltered "Clients" with Disabilities To Apply For Regular Employment.

Minn. nonprofit to reform hiring practices in major disability rights settlement

Adults with disabilities at nonprofit Opportunity Partners in Minnetonka worked on 100,000+ Super Bowl cake decorations in 2013.

article by Chris Serres for the Star Tribune | Nov. 21, 2016
In a case that could open doors for thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities, a large disability services provider has settled a state human rights charge and agreed to give its workers a shot at regular jobs.

Opportunity Partners, a Minnetonka-based nonprofit, has for years classified individuals with disabilities who labor in its facilities as “clients” or “persons served,” even though they perform actual work for pay and may aspire to be considered regular employees.

Many of these individuals are paid less than the minimum wage.

In a settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Opportunity Partners has agreed to change its hiring practices so that the roughly 2,000 individuals it serves will have the chance for regular work at a competitive wage. The nonprofit did not admit wrongdoing, but said it will make it clear that anyone who receives job supports or other services will be considered for employment, regardless of their disability or status as a recipient of disability services.

“This changes the paradigm,” state Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said in an interview. “The more people say it out loud, that all people should have the opportunity for gainful employment ... the more individuals who make the decisions on hiring will be open to actually hiring individuals with disabilities.”

Armando Camacho, president and chief executive of Opportunity Partners, said he does not expect the agreement to result in major changes in the way his organization provides services. It has been “extremely rare,” he said, for individuals served by the agency to seek regular employment at the agency. Of the 2,000 people served by Opportunity Partners, only one person applied for a staff position in 2015, he noted.

“Nonetheless, we are pleased to be able to now make clear that anyone is eligible to apply and be considered for employment, including individuals we serve or have served in the past,” Camacho said.

National advocates praised the settlement, saying it resolves one of the first legal challenges to a system of disability employment that has long been decried as discriminatory.

Across Minnesota and the nation, disability services providers such as Opportunity Partners bring in individuals to package products and do other light assembly work on contract for large companies. In Minnesota, more than 100 of these agencies hold special certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor that allow them to pay workers based on their productivity instead of a fixed hourly wage. Pay through this system, known as “piecework,” often amounts to just pennies on the dollar.

A recent analysis by Minnesota’s workforce agency found that 15,400 Minnesotans with disabilities work for agencies that hold these special certificates to pay subminimum wages.

Many individuals also receive job coaching, transportation and other services funded through Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor. The line between worker and service recipient has long been blurry, with many agencies referring to workers as “consumers,” “clients” or “participants,” instead of employees.

“This is a milestone,’’ said Cheryl Bates-Harris, of the National Disability Rights Network in Washington, D.C.

Bates-Harris said the settlement finally makes it clear that people who receive employment supports, regardless of their disabilities, should be treated on an equal basis with all other workers. “It doesn’t solve the problem of segregation,’’ she said, “but if people have the confidence to say, ‘I can move up,’ that gets to be contagious. This will embolden others."

Illinois Lawmakers Move To Block OT Restrictions For Home Care Workers

SPRINGFIELD , IL.— Feeling ignored by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration, people with disabilities who receive state-funded in-home care are turning to the General Assembly in an effort to block proposed overtime restrictions for their caregivers.

article by Dan Petrella for The PANTAGRAPH | Nov. 22, 2016
The Rauner administration is seeking to prohibit personal assistants who provide care through the state’s home services program from working more than 40 hours per week under most circumstances.

The state implemented the rule earlier this year in response to U.S. Department of Labor ruling that said home care workers must earn time-and-a-half pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Facing a lawsuit from a union representing 25,000 home care workers, the state Department of Human Services put the rule on hold in August to seek approval from a bipartisan House and Senate committee charged with signing off on such rules.

While a final draft of the rules has yet to be submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, the Senate last week approved a bill that would prohibit the department from making its proposed changes.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said the administration’s proposal “fundamentally undermines the vastly successful home services program.”

The restriction on overtime “needlessly penalizes workers” and “sows confusion overall,” Lightford said.

The measure, which the Senate approved on a veto-proof 38-18 vote, now goes to the House, where Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, has signed on as the chief sponsor.

Spokeswoman Meghan Powers wrote in an email that the department sought “to create a rule that protects residents who depend on the Home Services program, individual providers and the taxpayers of Illinois.”

“This legislation allows for unlimited overtime hours without any oversight, leaving our most vulnerable without backup providers, less job creation in Illinois and additional costs of at least $14 million annually,” Powers wrote.However, advocates and people in the program say the changes would deny them their choice of caregivers.

K.L. Cleeton, a 27-year-old Effingham resident who’s paralyzed from the neck down because of spinal muscular atrophy, testified about the issue at a public hearing last month and spoke last week at a Statehouse news conference in support of Lightford’s bill.

“We deserve to be heard, and we won’t be ignored,” said Cleeton, adding that he was speaking on behalf of tens of thousands of Illinoisans with disabilities.

Chicago Toy Store Caters to Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Chicago -- A quick Google search can pull up hundreds of sensory-friendly toys designed for children on the autism spectrum, but just because it’s billed as appropriate for children with special needs, doesn’t guarantee your child will like it. That’s where Spectrum Toy Store comes in. Based in Chicago, Spectrum Toy Store is the first toy store in Illinois, and one of several in the U.S., designed for children with developmental disabilities.

article By Jordan Davidson for The Mighty | Nov. 17, 2016
Behind Spectrum Toy Store is Jamilah Rahim, who decided to open the store based on her experience as a behavioral therapist. “[I] noticed that so many parents ordered their toys and sensory products from major online sites like Amazon and Ebay because they had no where locally to buy their products,” Rahim told The Mighty. “Then when they would receive their items the children were either uninterested in them or they were dissatisfied with the quality. I wanted to give parents somewhere local they could go and find toys and products that fit their child’s needs.”

Unlike web-based stores, Spectrum Toy Store lets children try its toys before their parents buy them. “Every child with a disability is different and their needs are different,” Rahim said. “Being able to come feel and see the product before purchasing it gives the comfort of knowing you have purchased the right product for your child.”

In addition to providing toys for children on the spectrum, Spectrum Toy Store also features individual and small group skill building activities – focusing on communication, cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, life skills, social skills and sensory activities – through its partner nonprofit organization, Children’s Advanced Recreation and Education. During the activity sessions, children use the toys sold in the stores, giving Spectrum Toy Store employees the ability to recommend toys to parents based on their child’s interaction with them. For those outside of Chicago, Spectrum’s toys are also available for purchase online.

So far, Rahim said, the response has been amazing, with people contacting her from outside of Illinois and even internationally. Her advice to people looking to provide similar services: “Consider all individuals when providing products and services. [Don’t] focus on the financial aspect, but on providing for a population that is underserved. [K]eep your passion as an advocate first and a business owner second.”

For more on the Spectrum Toy Store, visit

Monday, November 28, 2016

National Trends in Disability Employment December 2nd Webinar

On the first Friday of every month, corresponding with the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar will take place as a live broadcast via Zoom Webinar to share the results of the latest nTIDE findings. In addition, we will provide news and updates from the field of Disability Employment, as well as host an invited panelist who will discuss current disability related findings and events. The archived webinar will be available as a video as well as an audio-only download the following week.

Register for the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar on Friday, December 2, 2016 at 12 Noon EST.
Join the monthly webinar to get detailed findings of the latest Jobs Report release and announcements from the Disability Employment field. Retired Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa will present during the webinar.

Agenda: December 2, 2016
  • 12:00 pm: Overview of National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Jobs Report Release
    Andrew Houtenville, UNH-IOD & John O'Neill, Kessler Foundation
  • 12:10 pm: nTIDE open Question & Answer period for attendees
  • 12:20 pm: Announcements from the field of Disability Employment
    Michael Gamel-McCormick, AUCD
  • 12:30 pm: Open Question & Answer period for attendees
  • 12:40 pm: International Disability Employment
    Senator Tom Harkin, Retired, Democrat - Iowa
  • 12:50 pm: Open Question & Answer period for attendees

Dept of Veterans Affairs and National Disability Rights Network Sign Agreement to Enhance Services to Veterans with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Oct. 28, 2016 - Curtis Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), signed a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service (VR&E). This agreement signifies a formal relationship between NDRN and VR&E to better enable Veterans with service-related disabilities to successfully transition into civilian life.

Signing on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs were Curtis Coy, Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity and Jack Kammerer, Director, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service.

The VR&E program provides individualized employment solutions and rehabilitation services to Veterans with disabilities that affect employment opportunities. NDRN is the non-profit membership organization for the nationwide Protection and Advocacy Systems and Client Assistance Programs (P&A/CAP). Collectively, the network is the largest provider of legally-based advocacy services to people with disabilities.

Under the agreement, NDRN and VR&E will collaborate to improve outreach to Veterans with disabilities, and increase awareness of and access to services that will enable them to better adjust to the civilian community. It will also improve communication and information sharing between the two organizations.

Additionally, NDRN and VR&E have agreed to determine when P&A/CAP agencies can support VR&E counselors to enhance services to Veterans; will exchange Fact Sheets on P&A/CAP and VR&E programs, services, statutes, and regulations to educate staff and clients; will conduct topical trainings on a variety of information important to Veterans such as benefits, disability rights under the law, employment, education and housing.

“Having sacrificed so much for our country, Veterans with service-related disabilities deserve every opportunity to find rewarding careers when they return to civilian life,” said Curt Decker. “This agreement is an important first step in a partnership that will improve employment services for our nation’s veterans.”

# # #

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.

SOURCE: Press Release 

Justice Dept Revises Regulations to Require Closed Movie Captioning and Audio Description for People with Disabilities

Nov. 22, 2016 -- The Justice Department today announced an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III regulation to further clarify a public accommodation’s obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities.  The final rule provides that public accommodations that own, operate or lease movie theaters are required to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie that is produced, distributed or otherwise made available with these features.
Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services, where necessary, to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities, and the department has long held the position that captioning and audio description are auxiliary aids required by the ADA.  Despite this obligation and the widespread availability of movies with these features, the department received numerous reports from the disability community indicating that neither closed movie captioning nor audio description is universally available at movie theaters across the United States.
The department initiated this rulemaking on June 10, 2010, with the publication of its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and then published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Aug. 1, 2014.  In total, the department received over 1,500 comments on the ANPRM and the NPRM, including a comment on the NPRM that was jointly submitted by advocacy groups representing individuals with hearing disabilities and the movie theater industry.  The department intends to publish the final rule in the Federal Register in the near future, and the rule will take effect 45 days after publication.
“The disability community and movie theater industry provided comprehensive insight on this important regulation,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department’s regulation establishes a nationally consistent standard and ensures that, in theaters across the country, people with hearing and vision disabilities can fully enjoy watching movies with their families and friends.”
The final rule requires movie theaters to have available and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description so that it is delivered to a movie patron’s seat and available only to that patron.  Movie theaters are also required to notify the public about the availability of these features and have staff available to assist movie patrons with the equipment. 
The requirements of this rule do not apply to any movie theater that shows analog movies exclusively.  Additionally, the compliance limitations under Title III of the ADA apply to this rulemaking, and thus, the rule makes clear that movie theaters do not have to comply with the rule’s requirements if compliance would result in an undue burden or a fundamental alteration.
For more information about this rule or the ADA, please visit the department’s ADA website or call the ADA Information Line (1-800-514-0301, 1-800-514-3083, TTY).  Once the final rule is published in the Federal Register, a copy will be available on the Federal Register’s website.
SOURCE: Press Release - Dept. of Justice on 11/22/2016

2016’s Most Charitable States – WalletHub Study

With tomorrow being #GivingTuesday (11/29), nearly a third of all annual giving taking place in December and the U.S. ranking second overall in this year’s World Giving Index, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2016’s Most Charitable States as well as a Charity Calculator to help donors maximize their philanthropic impact.

To determine the most generous states, WalletHub compared them based on 13 key metrics. The data set ranges from “volunteer rate” to “percentage of income donated” to “percentage of sheltered homeless.”

 Most Charitable States  
 1Utah 11West Virginia
 2Minnesota 12South Dakota
 3North Dakota 13Tennessee
 4Maryland 14Kansas
 5Oklahoma 15Missouri
 6Delaware 16Connecticut
 7New Hampshire 17Georgia
 8Ohio 18Virginia
 9Wisconsin 19Washington
 10Arkansas 20Kentucky
Key Stats

  • Utah has the highest volunteer rate, 39.3 percent, 2.1 times higher than in Florida, which has the lowest at 18.3 percent.
  • Utah has the highest percentage of donated income, 6.61 percent, 3.6 times higher than in New Hampshire, which has the lowest at 1.85 percent.
  • Utah has the highest percentage of the population who claim to have donated time, 56 percent, 1.9 times higher than in Kentucky, which has the lowest at 30 percent.
  • Maryland has the highest percentage of taxpayers who donated money to charity, 38.2 percent, 3.1 times higher than in West Virginia, which has the lowest at 12.3 percent.
  • Utah has the most volunteering hours per capita, 75.6, 3.7 times more than in Kentucky, which has the fewest at 20.7.
  • Vermont has the most public charities per capita, 27.07, 4.5 times more than in Nevada, which has the fewest at 6.05.
To view the full report and your state’s rank, please visit:

SOURCE: WalletHub

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Have the Winter or Holiday Blues? Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

During the holiday season it can be a hard time of year for many. For those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression, the decrease in natural sunlight can negatively impact their mood. People with other forms of depression may also find the winter months difficult. And older adults and others who are far from their families may feel lonely or isolated. Find tips to help people with depression or anxiety and seniors and their caregivers handle holiday depression. Please read this article to learn more.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers tips about taking care of yourself when you have a mental illness, including eating healthy meals and getting plenty of exercise. Having a support system of friends and family members can also help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Learn how to talk with a loved one if you believe they might be depressed. Take a free, confidential mental health screening online or find a depression screening program near you.

To find mental health treatment options in your area, use the Mental Health Treatment Locator

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and need to talk to someone right away, 
please call 1-844-493-TALK (8255).

# originally published 12/23/2015, at time of repost all links up to date.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fed Court Halts Overtime Rule, Home-Care Workers For Seniors and Disabled Included

November 22, 2016 -- A Texas judge ruled that the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) attempt to expand overtime pay to more than 4 million employees starting December 1, 2016 will be delayed. The court ruling comes as a relief to numerous employers and Chamber members who have expressed concern surrounding not only the added cost, but implementation concerns, as well. The injunction will allow the judge more time before making a final decision on the authority of the DOL to make the rule change. Read more on yesterday’s ruling, Washington Post article.

The ruling will affect a diverse range of employment, but also Home-Care workers that assist seniors and people with disabilities. As more information becomes available we will updates our posts.

What yesterday’s ruling means for employers is that the rule will not be enforced as originally planned starting on December 1, 2016. Though you should continue to be prepared for possible implementation at a later date.

Disclaimer: this update is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to this issue, or any other legal question concerning or impacting your business.

Accessible Theatre Performances of "ONE OF US" Beauty and the Beast in Chicago Dec 1 - 11, 2016

Bodies of Work: Network of Disability Art and Culture is proud to partner with MCA this December! Please spread the word and get your tickets to see "One Of Us" with Julie Atlas Muz & Mat Fraser!Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

MCA Stage Presents
ONE OF US Julie Atlas Muz & Mat Fraser
Beauty and the Beast
Thu, Dec 1-Sun, Dec 11, 2016

It’s story hour for adults.
Burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz and English actor and comedian Mat Fraser use disability, beauty, and sexuality to expose the social undercurrents of the eighteenth century fairy tale.

Their explicit, adult-themed performance repositions the Beast as a natural-born freak to the beauty queen who loves him—using humor, and a healthy dose of nudity.

A collaboration with puppeteers of Oliver-winning British group Improbable, you won’t want to miss this happily-ever-after bedtime story.

(click to enlarge)

Ticket Price
$30 Full
$24 MCA Members
$10 Students
Call Box office for tickets and information
312-397-4010, and online at
220 E Chicago Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60611

THU, DEC 1 & 8, 7:30 PM
These performances and post-show talks are ASL interpreted; Amy Kisner and Suzanne Salerno are each evening's interpreters.

SAT, DEC 3, 7:30 PM & SUN, DEC 4, 3 PM
These performances are captioned.

FRI, DEC 9, 7:30 PM
Relaxed Performance of Beauty and the Beast is open to everyone, but the artists are also offering this night as a "relaxed performance.” Relaxed performances are for people, with or without disabilities, who would prefer some flexibility in regards to noise and movement in the theater. Stage lighting and sound have been adapted by the artists to be less intense. Patrons are free to leave and reenter the theater as necessary, and the theater lights are kept at a glow to facilitate movement. Sensory rest areas are available outside the theater for patrons to take a break before returning to the show. Volunteers, many of whom are members of the disabled community, are present to assist. For more information, please call the MCA Box Office at 312-397-4010.

SAT, DEC 10, 1:00-3:00 pm
The creators of Beauty and the Beast put the experience of disability in society at the center of their work. They lead an inclusive workshop for professionals on reconfiguring collaboration, creation, and performance in theater and burlesque.
Includes ASL, Free with ticket to Beauty and the Beast

SUN, DEC 11, 11:00-1:00 pm
MCA Talk: Dialogue: Crip Culture
Mat Fraser and Director of Bodies of Work Carrie Sandahl lead a discussion on sexuality in the disability community. In relation to Fraser’s work as part of ONEOFUS, they speak about current policies and social implications. This talk features ASL and Open Captioning and is organized with Bodies of Work and in association with Access Living, the leading agency for disability advocacy in Illinois.
Learn more:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

State of Illinois Targets Holiday Shoppers Abusing Disability Parking at Malls Statewide for the 10th Year

The annual State of Illinois sting begins the day after Thanksgiving who illegally park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities at shopping centers in Chicago, Schaumburg, Aurora, Oak Brook, Orland Park, Bloomington, Carbondale, Fairview Heights and Springfield, according to the Secretary of State office.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced today that Secretary of State Police will conduct statewide parking stings targeting individuals illegally parking in spaces reserved for persons with disabilities at shopping malls beginning Black Friday, November 25.

Secretary of State Police will enforce the provisions of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities at shopping centers in Chicago, Schaumburg, Aurora, Oak Brook, Orland Park, Bloomington, Carbondale, Fairview Heights and Springfield on November 25. Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season and is the busiest shopping day of the year. Other enforcements will take place during the holiday season in Chicago, the suburbs and across the state.
“Our mission is not to issue tickets, but to ensure that accessible parking spaces are available to those who need them,” White said. “Parking illegally in a space reserved for people with disabilities means a possible driver’s license suspension and a hefty fine, which could otherwise be used on gifts. Remember, if you don’t belong there, don’t park there.”
Drivers caught misusing a placard face a six-month driver’s license suspension and $600 fine. Repeat violators will face a one-year driver’s license suspension and $750 fine for a second offense, and for third or subsequent offenses a $1,000 fine plus a one-year driver’s license revocation. The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a disability placard or license plates is up to $350 and using a deceased person’s placard or a fraudulent placard can result in a $2,500 fine and one-year revocation of a driver’s license.

There are 636,955 disability placards and 65,954 disability license plates in Illinois.

Secretary White urged individuals to report abuse of parking spaces for people with disabilities by calling 217-785-0309. Callers should be prepared to report placard and license plate numbers as well the as location of vehicles. People can also report abuse via the Secretary of State’s website at and complete the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities Abuse Complaint Form.

SOURCE: Illinois Secretary of State Press Release on Nov 22, 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dee Smith Wins 2016 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship

Dee Smith in action.
CLEARWATER, Fla. (November 20, 2016) – Dee Smith (Annapolis, Md.) captured the 2016 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship today in Clearwater, Fla. following three days of racing at this US Sailing National Championship, hosted by Clearwater Community Sailing Center.

Sailors racing in a fleet of 12 2.4mR sailboats tallied nine races, including three on Friday, two on Saturday and four on Sunday.

Smith won seven races over three days and did not compete in the final race of the championship on Sunday.

“The first two days were light and shifty, but today, we had more wind which is always more fun,” said Smith. “I saw a lot of improvement in the fleet each day,” added Smith who offered instruction to the fleet this week.

Smith is a former America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race competitor and many other high-level racing programs over the course of his career. The Maryland native has hundreds of thousands of ocean racing miles under his belt.

Smith’s top results to date include a 4th at the 2016 Paralympic Games and 5th at the 2016 Para Sailing World Championship.

Placing second was Charlie Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.), an experienced and accomplished 2.4mR sailor who won this title in 2012, 2011 and 2009.

Rosenfield said, “The hosts were outstanding, the weather was great and I think it was a very successful event. It’s great we have so many new people and they are right there in the mix doing well.”

The regatta’s youngest competitor, Barbara Galinska (Chicago, Ill.) said, “I think I learned more in the last five days about sailing than I ever have. The most beautiful thing about sailing with these guys is that they are all such tough competitors. The staff here and race committee was amazing.”

It is US Sailing’s goal to organize events like this with host organizations around the country to increase participation and drive more awareness to the opportunities in adaptive sailing.

This US Sailing National Championship is one of the oldest sailing regattas in the U.S. for sailors with disabilities. The talented field often includes Paralympians, current or former US Sailing Team members, and new contenders. First established in 1986, the U.S. Independence Cup became US Sailing’s National Championship for sailors with disabilities in 1989. In 2007, the regatta moved under the championships division of US Sailing and was renamed the U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship. Many competitors from this championship have gone on to represent the United States at the Paralympic Games including Nick Scandone, gold medalist at the 2008 Paralympics, and Jennifer French, silver medalist at the 2012 Paralympics.

These athletes raced this week to stake claim to the Judd Goldman Trophy. Peter Goldman donated the Judd Goldman Trophy in honor of Justin “Judd” Goldman (1914-1989) who, despite his own physical disability, was an accomplished sailor and inspired the creation of the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program in Chicago.

For results and standings, photos, Twitter and Instagram (#DisabledSailing16) updates from Clearwater, and more information about the 2016 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship, please visit the event website.

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